HAMILTON MAKES HISTORY AT PORTUGEUSE GP

Today I watched history in the making.

This will forever be the day that Lewis Hamilton achieved his 92nd win; taking the “most wins in formula 1” crown from Michael Schumacher who previously held the record with 91 race wins. Of course, this was a monumental moment for Formula One, so I will do my best to paint the picture of how things went down.

Before the race had started there was a sense of anticipation about some dark clouds lingering around the track, but in the end the rain didn’t cause too many problems for the drivers, as it seemed to mostly effect turn 1 and was intermittent all day. The concern was that the track had only been resurfaced a month ago and so a touch of rain would turn it into an ice rink. It was really odd to see a crowd in the grandstands (my first ever F1 crowd) but yet there still didn’t seem to be an atmosphere. There were no flags or waving of arms, but wow what an exciting first lap we had.

Perez was hit by Verstappen and span out, Sainz magically made into first place and drivers were switching places like a Rubix cube. I was honestly very confused and can’t begin to accurately recount the first lap because it all happened so fast. I would have loved to see Sainz finish in first place or even in the top 3 but by lap 8 he was overtaken by the famous trio: Bottas, Hamilton and Verstappen.

A few minutes later we saw the replay of the Perez and Verstappen incident, which clearly showed that Perez wasn’t at fault. It amazed me how quickly the commentators could have a chat with the Racing Point team down at the pit wall about the collision, and I have to say I agreed with them that it should have been investigated.

The DRS zone was creating some easy overtakes but this didn’t take away from how impressive Gasly’s pace was. On lap 18 only 3 drivers had pitted and out of nowhere we saw another collision between Norris and Stroll. Norris was pushed off track and suffered some damage which ultimately lost him time and points. Stroll received a 5 second penalty for causing a collision.

The next highlight in my eyes was an epic battle on lap 35 between Ocon and Perez, which was a great show of good old-fashioned racing spirit. The cars were side by side, being pushed to their limits by the two drivers, but yet there was no contact between them. We are so used to seeing crashes which could have been avoided and this was a refreshing change. Ocon continued to defend his spot against Perez, even though he hadn’t yet pitted and so would inevitably lose his spot at some point.

Things became a bit samey for the next 22 laps until Stroll had to retire from the race due to a “damaged floor”. We can only assume that this damage was sustained from his earlier crash with Norris, but it was still a shame to see him have to miss out on another race. This would mark 4 races in a row that he either didn’t finish or didn’t drive. Meanwhile, LeClerc was exceeding the limits of his car once again and flying up in 4th place.

We had quite a few insights into the drivers’ seat thanks to the technology of a team radio. Some made me chuckle, like the message from Verstappen:

“Mate it’s so gusty out here now. Can you confirm”
“I can confirm.”

Some made me empathise with the drivers about how hard their job actually is. Russell was also complaining about the wind and I know from my own experience of driving through a storm how much it can buffet your car. Just imagine driving twice the speed and how scary that would be around a track you’ve never driven on before. Hamilton on the other hand was suffering with cramp in his right leg, and that is something which we definitely don’t consider or appreciate. The stress on the drivers’ bodies must be exhausting.

At the end of the race we saw another great battle between Gasly and Perez. There was quite a sketchy moment which went under investigation but eventually Gasly overtook Perez, and this was shortly followed by Sainz overtaking Perez. Nevertheless, it was Perez who won ‘Driver of the Day’ for his huge comeback. Having been forced off track earlier in the race facing the wrong direction, he fought his way through the field from being 20 seconds behind the pack to finish strongly in P7.

This didn’t stop Hamilton lapping Perez (while Perez was shortly in 5th place) which meant that he had lapped every other single driver in the race. At one point, Hamilton was also 8 seconds ahead of Bottas. It’s no wonder that Hamilton finished in 1st and claimed the title for the most wins in F1 history.

Out of his 92 race wins, 71 of them were driving for Mercedes and 21 were while he was with Mclaren. Sky Sports showed us a very snazzy video montage of his cars and races over the years which really did make it hit home that I had just watched a new world record being made. According to one of the reporters at track, Hamilton’s dad was very humbly filming his son crossing the line from the roof, on his own. We saw an emotional hug between father and son after the race and eventually the crowds did cheer for the new world record holder.

I couldn’t help but wish that Gasly had the same reception and fan atmosphere when he was on his podium a few weeks ago, or that we could see the families of the drivers more often.

Bottas claimed 2nd place and Verstappen closely followed in 3rd. Today was the 7th time which we have seen Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen on the podium and 6 times it has been in that exact order. Let’s see if someone else can break that monotony next week.

Sophie Middleton @‪MotorsportSoph